*Tonight, PBS airs the concert that had President Obama so hyped that he fumbled the spelling of R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
You won’t see that moment in the final edit of “In Performance at the White House: Women of Soul,” (April 7, 9 p.m. EST) featuring Aretha Franklin, Patti Labelle, Melissa Etheridge, Jill Scott, Janelle Monae, Ariana Grande and Tessanne Chin.
What you will see are two sets of remarks by the president (one opening the show and one re-introducing the Queen of Soul), and an hour of great music featuring three legends who show why they are legends, two current legends-in-the-making and two future stars who manage to survive the night without being blown completely out of the East Room – a huge compliment, considering this lineup.
Throughout the evening, the Obamas looked like they really wanted to get up and do more than just nod their heads and tap their feet, White House decorum be damned. They came close a couple of times, especially during Jilly from Philly’s set, which included her hit single “Golden” and a stirring cover of Franklin’s “Rock Steady.”
Greg Phillinganes had the band on point as musical director, putting particular muscle behind Etheridge’s powerful delivery of “I’m the Only One,” Monae’s “Tightrope” and Ms. Patti’s “Lady Marmalade.”
Ariana Grande, 20, had the nerve to attempt Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing”… and held her own, (yes, she hit the high note), earning the crowd’s approval for her effort. Tessanne Chin, 28, showed why she won season 5 of “The Voice” with a rendition of Donna Summer’s “Last Dance.”
The night, however, clearly doubled as a bow-down to Franklin. She threw her formidable pipes into “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” and later wrapped the evening with “Amazing Grace” as only she could.
Watch a teaser below: